Harshaw School students and teacher, Verner Vanderhoof, circa 1884 . Photo courtesy of Katie Goodwin

Sixteen public schools existed in Eastern Santa Cruz County by 1920. Most, if not all, were one-room schoolhouses. One group of schools was established in the late 1880s and 1890s; a second group was established in the early 1900s. The impetus for the establishment of the first group was most likely the passage of a compulsory school attendance law by the Territorial legislature (1875, 1885, and 1889), and the establishment of a Territorial loan and building fund in 1889. When Arizona was granted statehood in 1912 the State Constitution provided for the “maintenance of a public school system to be open to all, free from sectarian control, and always conducted in English.” The federal government granted land and $1 million for the payment of school bonds, thus enabling the construction of schools. [Weeks, Stephen, The History of Public School Education in Arizona, 1918:88]. 

Newspapers of the time reported the comings and goings of teachers for the local schools. Most were single women, though often a preference for male teachers was openly expressed. In a few cases married women were hired, contrary to existing state-wide policy that precluded their employment. Local school districts could waive the policy for difficult to fill positions. Jane Pilcher McFarland, who taught in the Patagonia, Harshaw and Nogales schools was one example. 

Born in Canada in 1863, Miss Pilcher emigrated to the United States in the early 1880s. She taught school in Portland, Oregon and then moved to Montana to teach in Billings and Butte between 1893 and 1901. She returned briefly to Portland in 1901, but by 1902 “she is now living in Mexico, where she is conducting a large boarding house in a mining camp remote from a railway. She writes to friends that she is prospering and making a great deal more money than she did when she was teaching the young ideas.” [Billings Gazette, 5/19/1902]. 

Jane probably met her husband, Edwin H. McFarland, a mining engineer born in Missouri in 1869, in that mining camp in Cananea, Mexico. Ed was married and in the process of divorcing his wife who resided in Bisbee. In October 1903, his divorce was granted on “the grounds of desertion and refusal to live with plaintiff any longer.” [Bisbee Daily Review, 10/2/1903]. Jane and Edwin’s marriage license issued in February 1904 lists their residence as Cananea. They lived in the Bisbee area between 1905 and 1909 where Ed managed several mining operations. About this time, they took custody of Ed’s niece and nephew, Lillian and Edwin, whose father Egbert was killed in a knifing at a Bisbee mine in 1903. 

In 1910 the family was living in the Garces National Forest [now part of Coronado National Forest] where Ed worked as a copper miner. Not long after, they established a residence on a 40-acre homestead near Harshaw. 

In 1914 Jane became the first president of the Patagonia Woman’s Club: “The women of Patagonia met…Tuesday afternoon to organize a woman’s club. A very good percentage of all the women in the district were present, and a temporary organization was effected by electing the following officers; President, Mrs. Jane E. McFarland; vice-president, Mrs. Geo. H. Francis; secretary, Mr. T. Pattison; treasurer, Mrs. O. F. Ashburn.” [The Border Vidette, 4/25/1914]. 

That same year she became the Democrat candidate for the Santa Cruz County Superintendent of Schools position; she lost to Mrs. Josephine Saxon of Nogales. [Border Vidette, 8/8/1914 & 9/5/1914]. 

In 1915 Jane and Miss Hazel Miller, both Nogales teachers, published “a simplified, illuminated text-book, the especial purpose of which is to teach the English language to Mexican children by means of illustrations and the constant employal of simple words puzzling to the beginner in the tongue.” [Border Vidette, 4/17/1915]. The authors noted that teaching Mexican children from the approved “Wide Awake Primer,” was not effective. 

During this time period Ed worked at the Sweet Bye & Bye Mine in the Rosemont mining area. [Santa Cruz Patagonian, 7/16/1915]. In 1919 Ed is reported to be running mining operations in New Mexico. [Border Vidette, 5/24/1919]. By 1930 Ed is ranching their land in Harshaw. 

Jane died in 1933 and Ed died in 1934; both are buried in the Patagonia Cemetery.